Saturday, August 04, 2018

Let there be (cheap) light

Every once in awhile I say something on a podcast that I haven’t talked about on this blog, though it’s something I would talk about here. I did that on the ArcherRadio podcast episode I announced here yesterday. That’s one thing I can fix by mentioning it right now.

On that podcast I said that I like to challenge myself, and for video lighting I wanted to make it as cheap as possible, or, even better, to use things I already have. This is the kind of thing I do a lot—trying to do things for free or inexpensively, mostly because I don’t like spending money on hobbies/diversions when I don’t need to, and because I enjoy the challenge of coming up with good solutions for little or no money.

I talked about experimenting with video lighting in a post last October, but, ironically, that photo wasn’t actually an example of the lighting: I was just trying only certain aspects, not the whole setup. Even so, one of the sets, if you will, I plan on using for videos I’m in will be there in my office. I’m also going to use the garage, which is my personal reason for getting that project done (and, as it happens, I made big progress on that today). More on the studio-making project, and even lighting choices, another day.

I also enjoy photography challenges, and have shared some on this blog. For example, the posts about my 2016 Nature Photo A Day series all talked about how I did the photos. All of the challenges used only what I had at hand, all of which was free. I even used an improvised light reflector for some photos.

Late last year, I also explained another series, which was 7 black and white photos in 7 days. That one was more a challenge of subject than of technique, but it was a challenge nevertheless.

So, I have a history of giving myself challenges for photos (and sometimes videos), and then figuring out how to meet that challenge. For me, that’s part of the fun of the whole thing.

The challenge of spending little or nothing on these things is also part of the fun for me, and it’s something I did when I first started podcasting, too. However, I did eventually spend some money on that—better mics, interfaces, even a digital recorder I never use anymore. The audio interfaces that I used to connect my mics to my computer are both gone. One pretty much wore out, and the other is obsolete. I later bought a special gadget to connect my XLR microphone via USB connection—and it works brilliantly.

I also bought some photography supplies. I have a photography table for product-shot type close-up photos (among other things, it has a translucent table surface so I can light the object from beneath), but I’ve never used it (the assembly instructions are in Chinese). I also have a handheld steady-cam sort of thing (which stabilises video when moving the camera, like walking with it), but that doesn’t actually work (which is probably why it was so cheap). When I get my office finished, I’ll figure out the table. The other gadget will need to be replaced, I think.

I mention these things because I’m not opposed to spending money on my creative hobbies, especially when it’s something I can use to improve the quality of what I produce. However, if I can save money by improvising, it will mean I have more to spend on what I can’t improvise, and to get the equipment I really need.

So, I made an offhand mention on a podcast of something I haven’t really talked about here, and that’s related to a lot of other things I’ve shared on this blog, and things I’ll share in the future. It’s nice when blog content just sort of drops into my lap—or out of my mouth, in this case.

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